YU MURAYAMA again provided the heroics for Ateneo, scoring the final goal in the shootout as the Blue Eagles defeated University of the Philippines on penalties, 4-2, to claim its first UAAP men’s football crown in six years on Sunday at the Moro Lorenzo field.
Murayama’s strike was read perfectly by UP goalkeeper Tyrone Caballes, but still ended up at the back of the net for the title clincher following a scoreless match at the end of extra time.
In winning their first football championship since 2006, the Katipunan-based booters thwarted the bid of UP to duplicate Ateneo’s feat of winning three straight crowns from 2004-2006.
A former goalkeeper turned striker, Murayama was also the hero in the Game One victory, nailing the winner as the Blue Eagles edged out the Maroons in yet another shootout, 4-3 (1-1).
“Start palang ng training namin, sabi ko may pupuntahan itong team na ito kasi nakita ko na from 'keeper to striker, puwede maglaro sa finals,” said Ateneo head coach JP Merida, whose team wound up as the top seed at the end of the eliminations.
Incidentally, Merida, who took over the head-coaching spot from his uncle Ompong in 2009, was a member of the Ateneo team that won three titles in a row.
“Lahat ng dati kong teammates, nag-text, sabi sa akin, hindi puwedeng mag-three-peat ang UP, Ateneo lang,” Merida said.
Ateneo goalkeeper Nicholas O’Donnell, later named MVP and best goalkeeper of the tournament, stopped Raymark Fernandez’s shot which allowed the Eagles to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the shootout after Michael Mabanag's successful penalty kick.
Handled by national team member Anto Gonzales, UP got a lease on life when Leo Liay missed on Ateneo’s fourth attempt and Fe Baya made it 3-2.
But the Maroons’s first two misses proved costly including Evanjames Mendoza’s first penalty shot that missed the goal completely to the left.
After nailing the winner, Murayama ran through the Ateneo gallery as teammates and fans mobbed him on the field.
Ateneo had a lackluster start, but began to aggressively attack from the wing during the second half. Liay had two shots in the last 16 minutes of regulation which sailed just a few inches above the crossbar.
“Magaling magbasa si coach Anto… Nakuha na niya to be ready for the crosses. Pero sabi ko, huwag muna tayo mag-cross, atakihin nila ‘yung mga defenders sa gilid,” said Merida.
The closest UP got in sending the series to a deciding Game Three came in the 107th minute when Deo Seguinal’s shot inside the box on a Jinggoy Valmayor pass went just wide left.
Liay was named Rookie of the Year, while FEU's Jesus Melliza runaway with the best striker trophy. Other awardees in the men's division are Gregory Yang of La Salle (Best Defender), and Mabanag of Ateneo (Best Midfielder).
Meanwhile, Far Eastern University defeated La Salle, 2-0, to capture the women’s crown.
Barbie Sobredo was named MVP and best striker.